Tri-State doctors, experts react to grim pandemic milestone

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VANDERBURGH COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) – The death toll from COVID-19 nears 500,000 people, and some Tri-State doctors and experts are reacting as the nation approaches the grim new milestone in the pandemic. 

Deaconess Hospital confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the Tri-State nearly a year ago and that patient was from Henderson County. 

“A new variant could come about tomorrow and that could really put us in a bad spot,” said Deaconess Clinic Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Scheu. “I think that’s my biggest fear is that a new variant comes through and we become a little too lax.”

Doctors say it’s too early to tell how the potential of those new possible variants of the virus may impact the local community. 

“It feels like in some ways we have been fighting this battle for a lifetime, but it’s just now been a year and think about all the damage that has been done in a year,” said Dr. Scheu. “I think it just really highlights that this is a marathon and a lot of people want to see the finish line in the future but we are not quite there yet.” 

There is some good news with cases across the Tri-State continuing to decrease. There is also a new push for more vaccinations. 

Any Hoosier age 65 and older is eligible to be vaccinated – while those in Kentucky have to be at least 60 years old. 

Getting the shot into people’s arms is something that health officials in Vanderburgh County say is their top priority. 

“We follow the science here at the Vanderburgh County Health Department,” said Lynn Herr, Clinical and Outreach Director for the Vanderburgh County Health Department. “We know by getting herd immunity, and vaccinating as many folks as we can, that our community will get back to normal functions.”

Doctors say the data for vaccines is strong with near 60,000 shots alone already given out at the Deaconess Health System.

“The more people that get vaccinated I think the more confident it should be that this is something safe to do,” said Dr. Scheu. “If you are someone who is holding out, and uncertain about what that means for you, with more time and data, I think we will have more confidence.” 

Officials say they are hopeful for some brighter months ahead and they want to encourage everyone to continue social distancing and wearing their masks.

(This story was originally published on February 22, 2021)

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